Quiet flows the Cauvery

TRAVEL

Quiet flows the Cauvery

We were a short distance away from the Bangalore-Mysore highway. As we took a detour from the bustling road, the cacophony of city traffic slowly began to fade away.

More often than not, the journey sets the tone for the destination. So was this one as we watched the lush countryside of the State go by. Farmers were packaging their produce after reaping a rich harvest. The road was dotted with bullock carts loaded with sugarcane. The drive culminated in an eight-km descent on a rugged path hewn in a reserved forest. Solitary trees in bloom stood out against the spotless sky. Colourful butterflies crossed our path. The road looped through the folds of a hill giving us a bird’s eye view of the valley beneath. This was our first glimpse of the grandeur of the River Cauvery.

The stone strewn pathway led us to a riverside camp. Wedged between undulating hills, the Cauvery meanders by the camp before cascading into a multitude of rapids just a few hundred meters ahead. Tucked in the midst of blissfully calm environs by the quiet flowing Cauvery, the Doddamakali Nature Camp offers an opportunity to relish simple pleasures that are hard to come by in a city. An oasis of calm, the camp is a perfect getaway for those who like to soak in serenity.

The camp is run by Jungle Lodges and Resorts, a government of Karnataka undertaking. Being in a protected forest area, there are no permanent structures in the camp. It is back to the basics here. Accommodation is in cozy tents and electrical appliances are battery powered .

Doddamakali is downstream from the famous Shivanasamudra Falls and upstream from Bheemeshwari. It lies at the periphery of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. In its seemingly placid waters thrive mighty mahseers and deadly crocodiles. In Kannada, dodda means big and makali is a medicinal plant. The makali plant grew abundantly in this area, and hence the name.

The sound of silence and the stillness of the surroundings took a while to grow on us urbanites. The sun shone brightly. The water glistened as its rays pierced the valley. Seated on rocks smoothened by the gushing river, we dangled our feet to be caressed by the Cauvery. Fish swam past, stopping occasionally to nibble at our feet.

After our rendezvous with the river, it was time to float along. Strapped up with life jackets, we squatted in a coracle, careful to maintain its equilibrium. The oarsman deftly steered the coracle past looming green hills and effortlessly twirled it,  giving us a hazy 360 degree view of the valley. In the bunks by the river bank live crocodiles, we were told. Not lucky enough to spot one though. This stretch of the Cauvery is home to the mighty mahseers.

Seasoned anglers come prepared with their fishing gear hoping to hook them. The catch is released after a photograph or two. The mahaseer is a much sought-after sport fish and hooking them is no child’s play. Unfortunately, it is also sought after by poachers.

Cradled in the lap of nature and doing just nothing is definitely an enticing way to spend time at Doddamakali. And most people go to the camp to do just that. While some enjoy ambling on the sandy river bank, others laze on a hammock. Joy fishing, kayaking and trekking are some activities offered at the camp. For those who like a close-to-nature experience,, there are several trekking trails in the surrounding hills.

Trekking up Yenekallu Betta

We chose to trek up the Yenekallu Betta. The hilltop offers a spectacular view of the meandering river. In Kannada, yeni means ladder and kallu means stone. This hill gets its name because of its stepped slopes that are like a ladder.

Our guide, a local was well-versed with the terrain. He led us along the acclivity of hill easing the climb with his lively narration. From atop the hill, we clambered down to its base where the Cauvery tosses and tumbles creating a well-scripted musical. In crevices by the river were tiny jelly fish. We crouched low to get a better view of the little beauties. As the sun was slipping away behind the hills, it was time for us to head back.

Doddamakali is a beautiful mix of the majesty of nature and its gentle ways. The richly woven fabric of the landscape and its tapestry changes with each season which brings with it a new reason to amble along the Cauvery.

Getting there

Doddamakali is about 140 km from Bangalore. There are two routes from Bangalore – one is through Kanakapura Road, Halgur and Shimshapura. The other is through Maddur, Malavalli and Kollegal.

Season: The onset of the monsoon infuses life into the forest.

September to February is the best time to visit Doddamakali. November to January is a good time for fishing and birding.

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